More than five years after 29 miners were killed in an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County, W.Va., justice was finally served as former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship was found criminally guilty for a conspiracy to willfully violate the Mine Safety and Health Act. While the tragedy was the largest loss of life in a mine accident in the United States since 1970, numerous other workers have lost their lives in Massey mines.
In our regular weekly feature, we’ll be taking a look at the winners and losers of the week in the struggle for the rights of working families. The winners will be the persons or organizations that go above and beyond to expand or protect the rights of working families, while the losers will be whoever went above and beyond to limit or deny those rights.
For those of you who have been following the Massey Energy story, the Mine Workers (UMWA) passed along this news yesterday: U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin announced that a federal grand jury today returned an indictment charging Donald L. Blankenship, former chief executive officer of Massey Energy Co., with four criminal offenses. The indictment charges Blankenship with conspiracy to violate mandatory federal mine safety and health standards, conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials, making false statements to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and securities fraud.
For a heart-breaking look at how the Republican-engineered dysfunction at the National Labor Relations Board is affecting working men and women, check out Dave Jamieson’s weekend piece in The Huffington Post.
Jamieson chronicles the nine-year ordeal of union coal miners at the Cannelton mine near Smithers, W.Va., who lost their jobs when Massey Energy (since purchased by another mining company after the notorious Upper Big Branch disaster) bought the mine.
The former president of a Massey Energy subsidiary, who also served for 20 years in top positions throughout Massey, implicated former Massey CEO Donald Blankenship in a long-term scheme to hide mine safety violations from federal inspectors.
A mine superintendent at the former Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch (W.Va.) mine, where 29 coal miners were killed in 2010, will serve 21 months in prison for his role in disabling a methane monitor that automatically shuts down a coal cutting machine when dangerous levels of the explosive gas are detected. As part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors, Gary May also will pay a $20,000 fine.
Today, April 5, is the second anniversary of the disaster at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch (W.Va.) mine where an explosion that mine safety experts say could have been prevented killed 29 coal miners. Mine Workers (UMWA) President Cecil Roberts says, “Today is a day for us to pause and think about the families…. Let us continue to keep the families of the victims in our hearts and our prayers.”
A former superintendent at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch (W.Va.) mine, where 29 miners were killed in an April 2010 explosion, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to violate federal mine safety laws. He faces up to five years in prison.
If deadly mine disasters like 2010’s Upper Big Branch (W.Va.) that killed 29 coal miners are to be prevented, miners must have stronger protections to report safety violations, mine safety law must be stronger and mine operators must face tougher penalties for violating safety and health laws, witnesses told a House hearing yesterday.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA's) enforcement effort and practices at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch (W.Va.) mine had a number of significant failures before the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners, according to MSHA’s own report on its actions released today.